Spring is creeping into the landscape and the recent heavy rainfall has swollen the river. The erosion of the banks has lead to the collapse of this tree.
I was interested in the contrast between the apparent featureless grass field and the tangle of broken branches and roots of the fallen tree.
The entire painting was produced with only 2 brushes. A no. 8 filbert and a 00 nylon ‘rigger’. There are only 3 colours used (Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue) and the mixes evolved through a series of colours produced by varying the proportions of each constituent tube colour. The large brush was not ‘cleaned’ between the various mixes, the excess was just wiped from the brush on a tissue paper. The result is a harmony of colour as the entire painting is basically the same colour, with variations. The small brush is used to introduce details. This is similar to a watercolour technique as these details are painted with a very solvent rich liquid paint.
Its a different approach to what is normally employed by oil painters where a series of colours are mixed simultaneously and the different colours applied, usually by a different brush reserved for that colour.
Here is the video of the painting process, see you soon.
The last day of the year and the last painting. The weather is cold and yesterday the sun was shining from early morning burning away the woodland mist. Although the days are lengthening, by just a few seconds at the moment, the promise of spring is definitely here.
I was interested in depicting the effect of the low sun filtering through the undergrowth. I was trying not to produce a ‘photographic’ like image. The prevalence of such scenes in photography has conditioned the way we expect to see it. Even with the modern HDR (High Dynamic Range) cameras the scene will tend to be in silhouette with lens flare and other ‘limitations’ of photography becoming the way we think we see.
The sparkling pinpoints of light were placed with the edge of a knife. Firstly as vertical lines and then overpainted with horizontal lines. This produced a pattern of ‘+’ shapes where the light was breaking through. Impossible to do with a brush, regardless of how small the point.
The colours are Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue and Titanium White. There is no black used. A little Liquin was used as I have found this smoothes the flat areas, like the sky, on this rough textured canvas.
The picture size is 16″ x 12″ and took about 2 hours to complete in a single session. Here is the video of the painting process. See you next year
I have a page for beginners concerning the painting of skies (see tab above). Its a few years since I recorded this video and my method and materials have changed a little since then. Here is the real time video of the painting of this sky.
The principal differences between then and now are:
I’m now using Alkyd Quick Drying Oil Colours.
I use Liquin to slow down the drying, as opposed to using it to speed up drying as with standard oils.
I’m not using black at all.
I can put a layer of ‘the wrong colour’ underneath because the Alkyd paint begins to set quickly. The mixing is thus restricted and less inclined to over-influence the later layers. An example was putting a layer of Burnt Umber under the grey of the clouds. This cloud colour already contained Burnt Umber in the mix but the layer of raw colour underneath is not completely obliterated so an interesting effect is produced.
The technique of blending the colours is the same as in the previous method. This is where a flat brush is quickly, but lightly, drawn across the entire surface, systematically from one side to the other. Vertically, horizontally and diagonally. The initial, almost haphazard, placing of colour is to introduce a randomness in cloud shapes. The blending knits the colours together creating a softness consistent with the sky effect. It requires practice and courage to swipe your brush across the surface in this, apparently reckless, manner. But it does produce great skies.
The video is in real time which gives a better understanding of this blending of colours. Notice the two dippers attached to the palette. The upper one contains a very dilute Liquin and White Spirits (solvent) solution. The lower one is White Spirits only. I use a pipette to add precise amounts of these liquids to the mixes. I rarely ‘dip’ the brush into the dippers because its difficult to get a precise amount and it also creates a mess.
The time-lapse version of the full painting is here.
Another Christmas flavoured painting. I’m old enough to remember Christmas without television, lights, tinsel, and all the trappings our children expect in this season. There was Santa Clause of course, but he was an imaginary figure. The only clues about what he looked like were in printed illustrations. The task of producing and delivering presents to the entire population of the world was no problem to this guy. Recently, one of our grandchildren was perplexed as to why Santa was using the chimneys to gain access and deliver the presents. Why not use the door, like everybody else?
Rich brown is the colour of the Irish winter. So the backbone of this painting is Burnt Umber, a chocolate colour with a hint of red. It peeps through the snow and frosted grass and its also in the sky colours. The warm colours of the clouds are Burnt Umber and a lot of white. In the context of sky colour it looks OK, even though its a brown colour. This helps to knit the two parts of the painting, sky and ground, together.
There are 3 colours used, Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna and Prussian Blue, loads of white but no black. Liquin was used to produce a smooth sky which I now like, after a period of painting skies as textured colour.
I like the lighter colours I’m getting at the moment. Deciding not to use black was a good decision. Here is a painting from 2 years ago when my colours were heavy and stodgy.
Here is the video of the above painting. Its 16″ x 12″ and took under 2 hours to complete.
Close to where I live, this is a nice walk in the early morning when the frost is still on the grass and mist hangs in the air. I liked the orange colour of the beech trees, lit by the rising sun, set against the cool blues of the misty wood. Nice contrasting colours.
I’m adding small amounts of Liquin to all the mixes. I’m talking about, maybe, 20% Liquin in solvent (White Spirits). The resultant flat areas are less ‘gritty’ than using solvent alone. An example of this ‘gritty’ effect can be seen here. Click on the photo to enlarge and see the sky, especially the blue.
Remember I’m using Alkyd Oil Colours which dry very fast. Liquin actually slows the drying slightly. The dry paintings have a uniform sheen and might not need ‘oiling out’
The colours are Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue and White (no black). The painting is 12″ x 9″ and took about an hour and twenty minutes to complete.
Here’s the video. I’ve also included a ‘real time’ version of a portion of the previous painting.
This scene i’ve painted previously (here) in summer time. Now in winter, nothing remains of the glorious green foliage. Its amazing the difference a few months make.
I’ve had a few requests to do a video in real time as opposed to a time lapse. I’m working on this at the moment trying to do a sequence of the painting of the tree on the left. I will post the video when I have it done. The problems are mostly technical to do with file size for uploading but also the editing. This is the most problematic as I rarely paint a compete item from start to finish, but flit about the painting, doing a little bit of everything. I have to find and isolate the bits which are specifically relating to the tree. Say, 3 or 4 seconds, then maybe a 3 minute sequence, then a few more seconds, all mixed up in the complete painting. Real time is precisely that – real time. The hour and twenty minutes have to be trawled through time and time again, looking for the relevant pieces.
I’m not sure there is anything more to be gained from ‘real time’ video as opposed to time-lapse. Anything longer than 3 or 4 minutes, without a prepared commentary, varied camera angles, etc. etc., is torturous to watch. I’ve been there, done that and it simply doesn’t work. A professional show case or instructional video is a different matter entirely.
Please accept my videos as diary entries, unedited raw footage. Recorded and uploaded without much post production, convenient and fast. What I lack in professional video production, I hope to make up in quantity and variety.
I’ve used exactly the same colours as the previous painting. They are Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue. Its amazing how different these same 3 colours are, in this painting.
The day is calm, cold with a light dusting of snow. I like dramatic skies but for this scene I had to resist the urge and paint a ‘flat’ sky.
As you will see in the accompanying video, I put a pattern of cloud-like shapes in the sky area. These are ‘islands of paint’ on the blank canvas. Part of this area has a wash of Raw Sienna and solvent only. This was allowed to peep through the later layers to suggest sunset colours behind the gloom of grey. When these ‘islands of paint’ are blended with a flat brush they join up and produce an almost invisible pattern. The original ‘islands’ had a rough perspective applied, that is, the bigger shapes were higher up and slightly darker in colour.
The mid-ground, snow covered field needed an underlying pattern for the same reasons as the ‘flat’ sky needed a bit of variation. This area was coated in a transparent layer, with Liquin medium added. This was then lifted off with a brush moistened with solvent. When the pure white was lightly brushed onto this, a range of subtle colours were produced. There is transparency and opacity in this area, better than a thick layer of white.
The size is 16″ x 12″ and was painted in about 2 hours. 3 colours only used, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber and Prussian Blue plus white but no black. As mentioned, Liquin was used to produce smooth transparent washes and help with the fine lines painted onto the wet under layers.
First snow, a little bit premature perhaps, but the weather men are talking about the threat, or promise, of snow in the near future. Its a year since I painted a snowscape and my approach to painting has changed in that time. Previously I painted the landscape, shadows and mid-tones, in solvent rich transparent layers. When the solvent evaporated I placed the snow, as a pure white paint, on top of the flat paint layer. By working the white into the under layers it picked up some colour and this added shadow colour to the snow. Check out these paintings and method by typing the word “snow” or “Christmas” in the search box on the left side of this page.
The painting above progressed as a standard landscape with the snow added, not as pure white, but like the standard highlights of a landscape with more white added. The result is less contrasty and harsh.
The painting is 18″ x 12″ and was completed in 2 and a half hours. The colours are limited to 3, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber and Cobalt Blue. I’m still not using black. I used Liquin to produce smooth transparent under-layers in the sky and distant trees. As I said in previous posts, ‘solvent only’ under-layers exaggerate the canvas texture, Liquin coats and smooths the texture.
This scene, almost on my doorstop, reminded me of a Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot painting. So I painted it in a similar style. In recent paintings I was working on transparency effects as mid-tones and even to produce highlights. As I said then, this method I found to be very limiting. Here there are areas in the sky where pure colour is allowed to stay uncovered and the this pure colour is shining as the white of the canvas is illuminating the colour from underneath. The blue and yellow areas are 2 such places.
In the lower part, mid and fore ground, the transparent colour was applied with a Liquin medium. This was wiped off resulting in a glowing range of reds and greys. When I applied the final opaque layer of blue-green and white, I did not cover this completely but left much of it to peep through this layer.
What an interesting texture this created. The transparent red beside the turquoise-ish opaque is a beautiful effect, impossible to convey in the photo above. Although the canvas is rough textured the painting has a delicate, fragile feel to it.
The colours used are Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue, plus white and no black. Liquin was used in layers destined to be left as final colour but also to produce a transparent smooth layer. The painting is 16″ x 12″ and took about an hour and a half to complete.
This painting is as much about taking paint off as putting it on. Its a complete departure from what I’ve been doing of late. This painting, and the last one, are painted with a medium rich paint. This is then removed with a brush wetted with solvent. The idea is to reveal the transparency which some oil colours posess. Transparency is normally used in shadows, with mid tones and highlights produced with opaque colour, usually with white in the mix.
There are limitations with this method as with others. Obviously, using transparent colours is essential. But using a limited range of colours is also important as transparency is reduced the more colours are added to a mix. The artist Dennis Sheehan is an expert with this technique. He uses only 2 colours (brown and green) to produce a landscape. See him at work here www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKFGe35y1N8.
Another, less obvious, requirement of this technique is to use a medium (not solvent) to spread the paint. Solvent does not produce a paint film. Medium will form a layer which coats the canvas texture evenly. Solvent flows into the canvas weave producing a grainy effect.
As I said this is a limited method of painting when used on its own. However, incorporated into a standard painting technique it could produce some interesting effects.
Here is the video of my efforts, but with white added in a few places. The colours are Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue. The medium I used was Liquin with a little White Spirits to help it flow. The painting is 12″ x 9″ and took about a little over an hour to complete.